The Things They Carried: Sam Mulberry

“The Things They Carried” is not only the title of a short story collection by Tim O’Brien but also series of articles in Foreign Policy Magazine.  In these articles, a writer at Foreign Policy profiles a person with a unique job in the world of international relations by creating a photo spread of the items that they carry with them as they perform their duties. This series was pointed out to my by my colleague in the Political Science department Chris Moore.  It seemed like an interesting way to use physical objects to tell a a person’s story and to profile who they are and the job they do.  He challenged me to create a similar series on our departmental blog to highlight the people in my department and the work that they do.  I agreed.  As a guinea pig to test how this would work, I started with myself.  Among other things, I am one of the people who teach Bethel’s Christianity and Western Culture (CWC) course.  These are the things that I carry to when I go to give a lecture.

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1. Paper Box Lid – I am often seen walking around campus caring the lid to a paper box filled with the items I need for class or meetings.  People who see my at a distance think that I’m carrying a pizza or a box of doughnuts.  I end up disappointing them with the in-edibility of the items that are actually in the box.  In my office I have a stack of eight extra boxes for when my current box begins to break down.

2. Class Announcements – One of my jobs in CWC is to coordinate the team of Teaching Assistants(TAs) for the class.  At the beginning of each lecture one of the TAs reads the announcements to the class.  This is both to let students know about upcoming events and to get the TAs comfortable speaking in front of 130 students.

3. Lecture Notes – When I first started lecturing in CWC, I would write out the text of my whole lecture.  Now I’ve moved to starting my lectures by building my PowerPoint and then writing out my lecture talking points on a printout of my slides.  My goal is to not have to make reference to my notes while I’m giving a lecture, but it is always helpful to have them with me when my mind inevitably goes blank.

4. Zoom Audio Recorder – For about a decade I have been audio recording CWC lectures – both the lectures give and those given by my colleagues.  We use these lecture recordings to help orient new faculty to the course as they are writing new lectures.  I also listen to a recording of my lecture from the previous semester in morning before class to help me review the content that I need to cover.

5. Printouts of PowerPoint Slides – It is part of my job to manage disability accommodations for the students in CWC.  I bring printouts of the PowerPoints to give to the students who require this as part of their accommodations.

6. Dry Erase Makers – When CC313 – the lecture hall where CWC is taught – was remodeled in the summer of 2015, the chalkboards were removed and replaced with whiteboards. I am not a huge fan of whiteboards largely because I have anxiety about the markers dying on my in the middle of class.  For this reason I bring a box of black dry erase markers for specific CWC use in CC313.  I put blue tape on the ends of the markers to label them as CWC markers. The ones that are bundled in the rubber band and brand new, while the un-bundled markers have been used.  Once a marker starts to fade, it needs to be recycled.

7. Diet Mountain Dew – I am both addicted to caffeine and not a fan of coffee.  So Diet Mountain Dew is pretty ever-present as my caffeine deliver system.

8. iPod Touch – I don’t own a cell phone, but my iPod Touch is a necessary piece of my daily routine.  I rely on in for e-mail, texting, and as my timepiece.  I don’t listen to music much, but I do listen to lots of podcasts. I also use by iPod to listen to recordings of my old lectures in order to prepare for future classes.

9. Keys – My keys are actually an important item to have in class, because inevitably I will forget to bring something to class and will need to run back to my office at the last minute.  There are more keys on this key ring than are necessary.  I actually only know what four of these keys are for.  I’m not even sure where the others came from, but I’ve carried them around for over a decade.

10. “To Do” List – Every morning I start my day by writing a “To Do” list.  It includes all of my daily appointments and all of the tasks that I need to complete.  I carry it with me throughout the day and check off tasks as they are accomplished.  I’m pretty certain I’d me unable to do my job without this regular routine.

11. Pens – I am never without a number of pens, and most of them are green. I do all of my grading in green pen and ask the my TAs do so as well.  This was something that I inherited from my mentor and predecessor Virginia Lettinga.

12. Clicker – I move around quite a bit when I teach and I use a significant number of timings and animations in my PowerPoints. Having a clicker keeps me from being tethered to my laptop.  I got my first clicker as a gift from Mike Holmes.  Although that clicker eventually broke, I still carry keep it in my computer bag because a gift from Mike Holmes is pretty cool.

13. Laptop Computer – I typically bring my computer to class and hook it up to the classroom projector.  I do this because I’m kind of picky about my PowerPoints and I like to use specific not standard fonts at times.  If I run the slideshow off my my computer, then I feel more confident that everything will work.  I also use my computer as a portable podcast and movie studio for other aspects of my job.

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